Mary-ed Life

Thoughts on love, marriage, children, and random trivia.

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Toddler Wearing

Here it is almost Christmas and my daughter is twenty (gasp!) months old. It’s a busy time in parenthood. First of all, I’m carefully beginning potty training. Ariana has her own potty now that she sits on whenever she wishes. Secondly, I’m also weaning her off of her sippy cup. I swapped out her two-handled sippy for a generic plastic cup with a lid and straw during mealtime and I’m trying to teach her that cups don’t have to go everywhere she goes in the house. Progress reports on these two endeavors will be featured in later posts.

Perhaps the most exciting and draining development in recent months is Ariana’s mobility. She took her first step later than most of her peers at around fourteen and a half months and didn’t transition to walking full time until nearly sixteen months. Now that she is rapidly approaching two, her steps are purposeful, quick, and often totally without caution. Her personality and desire for independence are also growing. This has created many challenges for me, and toddler wearing has been a vital solution.

As I have written before, I started baby wearing when my daughter was two weeks old and credit this practice with saving my sanity on many occasions. Ariana was the baby that always wanted to be held, morning, noon, and night. Wearing her in a wrap or carrier gave me the ability to keep her happy and still have two hands free to accomplish little things that really needed doing, like laundry.

Now that Ariana is older, her desire to be carried has basically vanished. She much prefers going where she pleases when she pleases than just lounging in a pouch while I go about my boring adult tasks, like laundry.

So do I still baby wear? Not exactly. Now, I toddler wear!

Toddler wearing, like baby wearing, serves my sanity. I don’t have much need of it around the house, since Ariana happily shadows me, but out of the house it is essential. Walking into a supermarket or any store is like walking into Eldorado for a toddler. (Look! Something shiny!) One minute Ariana is obediently holding my hand and the next she is racing toward whatever thing caught her eye. I learned this the hard way a few months ago and have since fixed the problem by toddler wearing.

Now, whenever I go to a store intending to shop for more than five minutes, I first hoist Ariana into my Ergo Baby carrier on my back. She gets an excellent view of all the shiny things and I don’t have to worry about her getting away from me. This works particularly well when grocery shopping since I don’t have to make room for her in the cart and worry about her pulling apart grocery items before I pay for them.

I have a very nice Graco stroller in my garage that is largely collecting dust. I use it only rarely now because toddler wearing is just easier. If Ariana gets tired of riding, and the environment is conducive to a roaming toddler, I just put her down and stuff the carrier into her diaper bag, and I have no heavy, empty stroller to push around.

As an added bonus, I have continued to get stronger and build muscle as a result of toddler wearing. Ariana is now about twenty-six pounds and thirty-two inches tall. I went for a walk around the neighborhood (about a mile) with her on my back a couple days ago and didn’t feel tired at all. I regularly carry her for an hour or more before I feel tiredness in my legs from the extra weight.


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“Doesn’t That Hurt Your Back?” (Thoughts on Babywearing)

I once heard a tale long ago of the fabled “content baby.” This small, delicate creature will supposedly lie in a baby seat and happily watch you cook dinner or will lounge in a baby swing for an hour or more while you go about your daily tasks. I’ve even heard of “content babies” that will play on their own while their parents watch television. Is it a myth? Does this “content baby” exist? Not in my house!

How can I put this delicately? Ariana is a diva. Since the day she was born, she has wanted to be held constantly. During the first two weeks of her life, my husband Dale and I took turns holding her twenty-four hours a day. It was the only way she would sleep. Gradually, we managed to train her to sleep in her crib and thankfully she has always been an excellent nighttime sleeper. However, the rest of the day is a different story.

Around Ariana’s two week birthday, I finally broke down and tried my first baby carrier, a Moby Wrap. I just couldn’t take the one-handed act another minute. I always knew I wanted to use a baby carrier and I expected that I would from time to time when she was a bit older, but I was honestly deathly afraid of putting her in a carrier when she was still so tiny. With Dale’s encouragement, I gave it a try.

What a relief! I had two working hands for the first time in weeks. As an added bonus, Ariana loved the wrap so much she consistently drifted off to sleep whenever I put her in it. I could cook! I could fold clothes! I could type! Hurray! It was the best decision I could have made.

According to the internet, my new parenting technique is called “babywearing.”

Since that day, I have “worn” Ariana nearly every day. It has made tasks like grocery shopping and attending church possible. It has given me an outlet for making her happy when nothing (and I do mean nothing) else would. I love babywearing and I won’t give it up until Ariana is moving completely under her own power.

I know from my numerous mommy groups that a lot of new mothers want to try babywearing, but don’t know where to start. Like every other parenting concept, there is infinite information out there, but not necessarily useful information. Many more people are just curious in general. I just can’t avoid attracting attention with an adorable baby strapped to my body.

I have lost count of how many times I’ve been asked the following questions:

1. Doesn’t that hurt your back?

2. Isn’t she heavy?

3. How do you tie that thing?

4. Is that comfortable?

5. Where do you get one of those

Well here are the answers:

1. I did get back aches in the beginning. The first few weeks after I started carrying Ariana in the Moby, I would get sore after about half an hour. At the time, she weighed seven pounds. However, my body responded to the stress by getting stronger. Slowly the time extended even as she got bigger. She now weighs eighteen pounds, yet I still carry her. Just a few weeks ago, I took her to a pottery festival and carried her and a backpack full of her essentials for more than two hours before I got tired. That was more than twenty-five pounds total.

2. Yes, she is heavy, but I pick her up anyway. She is a baby after all. When you really think about it, you carry your kids plenty as it is. So why not carry them comfortably?

3. Wrap style carriers do require practice to learn proper tying technique. However, it is not rocket science and anyone can do it. Wraps come with instructions for tying and there are a multitude of YouTube videos if you really need a live demonstration.

4. Yes. It takes a little getting used to, but I hardly notice the carrier anymore.

5. I have a Moby Wrap and an Ergo Baby Carrier. Both can be purchased online.

Please Note:

It is important to research the different kinds of carriers before purchasing, since many carriers are expensive. Also, different carriers are approved for different ages and sizes. You can try borrowing a carrier from a friend or trying a carrier on in a store as well. Personally, I loved my Moby Wrap for my newborn up until she was around nine months old. After that, Ariana became very wiggly and would try to writhe her way out of the wrap. I still use the Moby Wrap for church, since it is the most comfortable, but I use my Ergo Baby Carrier the rest of the time now. It is quicker to get on and off and allows me to carry Ariana on my back (as well as front).

The Ergo is also the less feminine looking of the two, so even Dale will use it from time to time, thus dubbing it the “daddy carrier.” This works well when we have a really long shopping trip or when I need Ariana to “daddy-sit” for me.

No matter what carrier you use, I can guarantee you will appreciate having two free hands. How often you babywear depends on preference (yours and your baby’s). I’ve heard of hardcore babywearers that carry their kids all day long. I personally love it when Ariana plays on her own on the floor and I wish it happened more often. For the moments in between, I have my carrier to save the day.

Ariana at about three weeks in the Moby Wrap.

Taking a break from cleaning to take a picture of Ariana (13 mo.) in the Ergo Baby Carrier.